Rewarding but let's talk about the challenges: using arts based methods in research with young mothers

Brady, G. ORCID: 0000-0002-3431-6543 and Brown, G., 2013. Rewarding but let's talk about the challenges: using arts based methods in research with young mothers. Methodological Innovations Online, 8 (1), pp. 99-112. ISSN 1748-0612

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In this paper we highlight the way in which research around teenage pregnancy has been commissioned in relation to a specific agenda. The pervasive political discourse authoritatively places teenage parents’ experiences outside of the norm, constructing teenage pregnancy as negative for young women, their children and wider society. Over several years we have worked with young mothers to produce visual resources including storyboards, story booklets and film which serve to challenge this dominant discourse. These resources have been used in training and cascaded to health and social care professionals to provide a more holistic picture of the lives of young parents which, in turn, has influenced changes in professional practice. We have found visual images to be a powerful way of encouraging practitioners, young people and wider society to question and reflect on stereotypes which permeate contemporary discourse relating to teenage parents. However, whilst using the arts has led to some very positive experiences for participants who have been able to utilise a range of art based mediums to express and share their lived reality with others, some methods - visual methods in particular - raise a number of ethical, moral and methodological issues. We suggest that whilst there is no doubt that arts based approaches to research and evaluation can be rewarding for both participants and researchers, our work with young mothers highlights tensions and challenges in utilising this approach.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Methodological Innovations Online
Creators: Brady, G. and Brown, G.
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Date: 1 April 2013
Volume: 8
Number: 1
ISSN: 1748-0612
Rights: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page(
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jeremy Silvester
Date Added: 28 May 2021 14:45
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 15:02

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